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Low Velocity Blunt Impact on Lightweight Composite Sandwich Panels /


There is an increased desire to incorporate more composite sandwich structures into modern aircrafts. Because in- service aircrafts routinely experience impact damage during maintenance due to ground vehicle collision, dropped equipment, or foreign object damage (FOD) impact, it is necessary to understand their impact characteristics, particularly when blunt impact sources create internal damage with little or no external visibility. The objective of this investigation is to explore damage formation in lightweight composite sandwich panels due to low-velocity impacts of variable tip radius and energy level. The correlation between barely visible external dent formation and internal core damage was explored as a function of impact tip radius. A pendulum impactor was used to impact composite sandwich panels having honeycomb core while held in a 165 mm square window fixture. The panels were impacted by hardened steel tips with radii of 12.7, 25.4, 50.8, and 76.2 mm at energy levels ranging from 2 to 14 J. Experimental data showed little dependence of external dent depth on tip radius at very low energies of 2 to 6 J, and thus, there was also little variation in visibility due to tip radius. Four modes of internal core damage were identified. Internal damage span and depth were dependent on impact tip radius. Damage depth was also radius-dependent, but stabilized at constant depth independent of kinetic energy. Internal damage span increased with increasing impact energy, but not with increasing tip radius, suggesting a relationship between maximum damage tip radius with core density/size

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